this is maybe a little hard to understand, if you weren't a teenager in a very specific period - about '91-'99, the 90s i guess, when the nu metal shift "corrected" things and tough guys went backing to being metalheads.
that period overlaps with a period when punk fashion moved from subculture to dominant culture. as with any other failed social revolution, the period is more defined by certain subculture traits being co-opted than it was by any meaningful change in social attitudes, even if it did correspond with a move towards liberalizing social attitudes in the older members of gen x.
i remember playing this for my aunt, who was a teenager in the 80s, and she was just confused by it. in her day, the skaters were the skinny punk kids that got picked on by the meathead jock metal heads. as mentioned, i think people that were teenagers in the 00s may more readily associate with this as well.
but the 90s were weird in this sense. skater culture in the 90s was defined by a sort of thuggish machismo gang mentality that overlapped more into gangster rap than punk rock. what you had where i grew up was a lot of upper middle class white kids skating because it was advertised to them as the "cool thing to do" and in the process co-opting this sort of survivalist 'hood mentality into a tool of oppression that they used to bully and intimidate the kids that, a decade before, would have identified as skateboarders. those kids may have maintained an interest in punk rock, but weren't generally accepted into the skater clique - which was essentially the "in group".
the culmination may seem a little surreal nowadays, if for no other reason than that it's been forgotten. but i remember sneaking through back alleys, evading skateboarding gangs made up of kids into slayer, while i had socal punk music blasting through my headphones. and i'm sure you'll get similar stories if you ask around - or maybe you were also that kid.
on one hand, this track was constructed to be sort of precious, and i think that it is. it's a pretty catchy pop song, really. on the other hand, i think i was trying to be a bit tougher than i actually was. i wasn't one to back down from confrontation - i'm still not. while i think it's true that i could have taken most of these brats one-on-one, i probably would have mostly chosen not to. see, the fear was always more that they'd convert the boards into weapons and then jump you. in canada, guns aren't much of a concern, but knives are.
...and the fear often came out of trivial reasons. talking with somebody's girlfriend. having a pair of headphones or a pair of shoes that might be worth something. basic thug shit.
in hindsight, the analysis here is a little simplistic. suggesting that these kids are going to grow up into pimps is problematic on numerous levels, although i can state with blunt honesty that a number of the people the song was about have grown up to be petty criminals with lengthy criminal records. i have to own that lack of depth and how it comes out in sometimes less than ideal statements, but i'm going to once again blame that on my age.
overall, i like this track on both a musical and thematic level. i just wish i had articulated myself a little bit better.
there was a specific story that influenced the track. when i was in the ninth grade, one of these skater bro types took it upon himself to start body-checking me into lockers. it was well understood that this person was older, but that just gave him more clout in the school's skater clique; he knew the older kids that they looked up to. i was never certain if he was on his second or third try at grade 9.
this wasn't the first time somebody had tried to get physical with me, but it was an escalation that i couldn't really tolerate. people flicking my ears was an annoyance, and especially so when it was a game, but it's the kind of thing one withstands. these were full on, run-at-me body checks that seemed to be designed with intent to harm.
i actually tried a few different tactics before i reacted. i tried sitting behind in class until he left, but it was visibly starting to make the female teacher uncomfortable that i was just sitting around waiting after class - and perhaps not unreasonably so. as for bringing it up with the teacher? well, this guy went out of his way to look for a teacher watching before he took a run. i couldn't be followed around by a teacher all day. i had to react on my own.
so, i tricked him into running at my open leg, which had him fall face first into the locker. he did not see the retribution in the act; he got up looking for a fight. as i was walking toward the exit, which was a staircase downwards, he took another run at me - which i dodged. that was an adrenaline filled movement, i tell you - he was full of stupid, hot rage and sidestepped like an angry bull. but, i still had to time it. there was no escape. he ended up falling down several flights of stairs and breaking his leg. consider what would have happened if i hadn't moved - even considering that i may have helped him lose his balance, a little.
from that point onwards, i lived in fear of being swarmed. rumours were floating around that i'd better stay away from certain people - which was a broadcast to me to stay low. i got the message, and spent the next several years sneaking around back passageways in and out of the school. i learned where the cuts in the fences were, how to detour across floor levels to follow the crowd, how to time the bus (we had public transit passes - and that fact alone probably spared me broken bones) to come in to class during the national anthem and other various scheduling and transiting tactics to avoid being alone at critical junctures. and, then i started to enjoy living that way, too.
i don't think that student came back the next year, so i'm not sure if he ever finished grade 9. but, part of the reason i'm telling you this story is that it helps paint a clearer demographic picture of the narrative that i'm presenting. if you remove the "skater" designation, this could be a story about gangs in schools that could be applied equally well across any other grouping. it just happened to be that the gangs at my school were populated by white skater kids, some from the welfare projects and others comfortably middle class. that might help to explain what some might see as a difficult reference point.
i've presented this track in chronological ordering because i wanted to tell the story of the track itself. looking through my releases, it may be difficult to tell what is an ep from what is a single, and what is an ep from what is a record. this is an ep, and not a single. it's an ep because it's a conceptual ordering of the tracks, rather than just an exploration of a single incarnation of a specific track.
i don't deny that the lyrics are painful. and, wasn't i supposed to be getting rid of painful vocals? well, perhaps. but, note that no vocal takes of this track make it on to any of the abum-format presentations of it, excepting inricycled. the vocals are tied into the concept of the ep, which is a narration of the song as it developed.
so, chronological ordering is the only rational way to present the tracks. further, a comprehensive exploration of the track's development actually becomes necessary, in order to narrate it's entire development.
i'm not going to take this approach to every single. i just think that this track had to be preserved in this kind of way.
initially written in 1997. recreated in jan, 1998. a failed rescue was attempted in 2013. reclaimed july 1, 2015. deconstructed dec 18, 2015. compiled on jan 4, 2016. finalized on july 6, 2016. lead track added and refinalized july 20, 2016. as always, please use headphones.
the album version of this track appears on my first record:
this release also includes a printable jewel case insert and will also eventually include a comprehensive package of journal entries from all phases of production (1997, 1998, 2013, 2015, 2016).